Conservative Councillors are proposing a motion at Thursdays Council meeting which could help to raise the curtain of secrecy which descended when Labour took control 18 months ago. (http://tinyurl.com/York-Council-motions-13th-Dec) They are right to do so. Important decisions are being taken behind closed doors. Agendas are not published and officer reports remain confidential until decisions have been taken.
We doubt, however, if the paranoid Leadership of the Council will support the move.
In the meantime, the Council has to respect the legislation passed by the last government. One of the rights it gives is for Councillors to ask questions of those holding Cabinet/Executive responsibilities.
So on Thursday around 50 questions have been tabled. Although some are mundane in the extreme, others could provide information which could be of interest to residents. Some examples:
• EMPTY SHOPS “What proportion of retail and office space is currently empty in each of the City’s sub-urban wards and how does this compare to the City Centre? How much of the “Innovation & Delivery Fund” and the “Economic Infrastructure Fund” does the Cabinet Leader intend to allocate to regeneration initiatives in sub-urban employment centres such as Acomb Front Street?”
• COUNCIL HQ COSTS “Why is the Council purchasing 2405 new seats for the new Council offices when fewer than 1000 staff and visitors are likely to be in the building at any one time?” “What proportion of the furniture at the new HQ will be reused units from the existing offices?”
• CHARGES FOR SPORTS “Following the latest Cabinet decisions, the level of concessionary charges for pensioners playing bowls on public greens will have doubled since Labour took over the leadership of the Council 18 months ago. How many concessionary tickets for this activity have been sold in each of the last 2 years, how much income has this produced for the Council and what are the forecast sales for 2013?”
• CHARGES FOR SPORTS “In September the Cabinet promised to build on the legacy of the Olympics and improve sports participation in York. How does this fit with the plans to increase tennis court charges by 16.7% and 33% for concessions?”
• CARE VILLAGE DELAYS “The Cabinet agreed an April 2014 completion date for the new ‘Care Village’ which is to be built on the former Lowfields School site. When does the Cabinet Member now expect the new Lowfields Care Village will be completed and available for occupation? What are the reasons for any delay?”
• HOUSING WAITING LIST “How many people were registered on the housing waiting list in York when:
– The Cabinet Member took up post
– At the end of November 2012
How many additional social housing units have been occupied, and how many “new starts” on affordable housing units have been made, over the same period of time?”
• WONDERLAND “Following 2012’s ‘Illuminating York’ debacle, will the Cabinet Member assure the council that the 2013 event will revert to its previous successful format?”